Take a look at your calendar. What’s it packed with? Weekly Bible studies, prayer meetings, Sunday worship services, community outreach, church events?
These are all wonderful things. The last thing I want to do is discourage consistent spiritual growth, service and discipleship for any Christian! But here’s my question: What is your motivation for all this activity?
Are you studying, serving, and sharing Christ out of an intimate, authentic relationship with Him? Or are you checking off boxes to meet a picture of how dedicated, “religious” Christians are supposed to behave?
I remember as a graduate student I was teaching a weekly Bible study and leading a ministry — while attending school and working. On top of that I was a new husband AND a new father. It was crazy, and to say I was overwhelmed is a giant understatement.
I had missed a deep and simple truth. Being a follower of Christ is not about following rules. Living the Christian life is not doing a bunch of good, “religious” things.
We can do nothing of value — nothing life-changing, nothing fruitful, nothing that will last for eternity—unless we are authentically and intimately connected to Christ.
Jesus uses the analogy of a vine to illustrate this.
“I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit. Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:1-2, 4-5 NASB)
Jesus is saying that just as nothing good can grow unless it’s connected to the vine, nothing good can come from our activities unless we’re connected to Jesus. If we try to live the Christian life without Christ as our source of life and power, we’ll just end up being religious. Busy with the outward trappings of faith. Fake and fruitless.
Let me encourage you to make a conscious decision right now to make your relationship with Christ your number-one priority. Seek Him out. Rest in Him. Listen to Him. Let Him flow through you. Abide in Him!
Stop being religious and start being Christ-like!
Want to become a more authentic Christian, instead of a more “religious” one? Read more from Chip Ingram’s series Authentic.
Founder & Teaching Pastor, Living on the Edge
Chip Ingram is the CEO and teaching pastor of Living on the Edge, an international teaching and discipleship ministry. A pastor for over thirty years, Chip has a unique ability to communicate truth and challenge people to live out their faith. He is the author of many books, including The Real God, Culture Shock and The Real Heaven. Chip and his wife, Theresa, have four grown children and twelve grandchildren and live in California.More Articles by Chip